[Disclaimer: This story has been started two times before, before being stopped abruptly. It might happen again, in which case I'll be very very sorry. But, you know what they say. Third try's the best try! Hope I'll complete this one.]
At 3 in the evening, Cafe La Veranda was almost deserted, except for two men who had been occupying a corner table for almost two hours now.
"So, as a former Newspaper reporter, I'm sure you've heard some pretty thrilling stories," Kevin said as he sipped his third cup of coffee.
Philip, dressed in a crisp office shirt and matching pants, smiled slyly. He was an entertaining man to talk to. And beneath the quite demeanor and polite conversations, Kevin, himself a reporter, knew there was a minefield of information.
"Well, there is one particular story that I like narrating over and over again. It starts quite some time ago..."
February 10th, 2009
It was almost 4 in the evening when Herb Seigler reached the Four Seasons hotel. Cursing his wife for wasting his time, he hurried into the lobby, hoping he wasn't late.
For the past eight months, God seemed to have favored Herb Seigler with everything he could possibly ask for. A Furniture manufacturer, Herb's once crippled business was now booming. But none of that would matter if his meeting with Michael Slater failed.
Michael Slater was one of the best Timber merchants around, and securing a long term supply from his was crucial for Herb's business.
If he'd hoped to make a good first impression, Herb Seigler had completely failed. Michael Slater was sitting in the lobby, looking at his watch, with an angry scowl on his face.
"I apologize for being late, Mr. Slater," Herb said, quickly taking a seat across from the merchant.
"I do not like doing business with men who are not punctual, Mr. Seigler," Michael Slater said, in a thick German accent.
Mumbling another apology, Herb proceeded to present his documents, hoping his business proposal would change the German's mood. However, after hearing the preliminary conditions of the deal, Michael Slater abruptly ended the business meeting.
"I'm sorry Mr. Seigler, but I have to reach the Merovingian Resort at 4: 30. I'll be on holiday for the weekend. Perhaps we can reschedule this meeting for later." Without waiting for Herb's reply, the man got up, ready to late.
Herb Seigler looked anxious. He needed to ink the deal with the next two days, or else he'd lose valuable orders. "Er - Mr. Slater, if you could spare just a few more minutes. I'm sure we can finish the deal right now."
Michael Slater looked annoyed. "I'm sorry. I do not like to rush through a business deal. Perhaps you should take your deal elsewhere-" He suddenly stopped, as though contemplating a new idea.
Then, with a look of compromise he said, "Why don't you accompany me to the resort. We could spend the weekend there. That way, I'll have plenty of time to discuss the deal. What do you say?"
It all made sense to Herb Seigler. He pictured Slater, sipping a Shirley Temple, half listening to the deal he was discussing. The man would be so relaxed, he'd sign anything Herb asked him to.
"Sure, I'd be more than happy to accompany you." Herb said.
"Splendid. Then we must get going right now. I'll have my limo outside within a few minutes."
Herb Seigler excused himself for a minute, and went outside the hotel lobby. Even if he was going to spend a weekend with the President, his wife would want to know. As he took out his cell phone, a young man who appeared to be in quite a hurry, bumped against him.
"Sorry," the man mumbled, and walked away. As he turned the corner, he spoke into his headset. "James, I'm done. Ask Ben to be ready."
"Good job Tim. Now get the limo ready.'
Herb Seigler tried calling home several times, but the cell seemed to have lost its network signal. He couldn't feel the small, transmission jamming device Tim had dropped into his long coat pocket. "Damn these mobile phones!" He cursed as he went back into the hotel lobby. Seeing a telephone in the reception, he asked the tall, mustached receptionist if he could make a call.
"Sure sir. Go ahead," the man replied politely.
Herb Seigler dialed the number, and got the answering machine. "Honey," he said softly, "I'll be out of town for the weekend. I'm having a business meeting with the German. It's been extended. I'll be home by Monday. Love you. Bye."
As he hung up the phone, an answering machine hidden in the nearby storage room finished recording what Herb Seigler had said. It was surprising how easily telephones would be rewired. It had taken Ben about half an hour to reroute all the calls made from the lobby phone to the answering machine.
"Shall we get going, then?" Michael Slater asked, moving towards the revolving entrance door.
"Sure, I'm ready," Herb Seigler said with a smile.
Just as he had entered the revolving door, Michael Slater's hidden earpiece crackled to life. It was James. "Mark, wait a minute. There's someone outside."
"Ah!" Michael Slater suddenly yelled, pushing the revolving door around. "What happened?" Herb Seigler asked, looking worried.
"Hold it, hold it. Alright, its all clear outside. Go!" James said.
"Ah, nothing. I just had gas trouble," Michael Slater said, looking normal again. "We really must hurry. The limo is waiting."
Quickly, the two of them entered into the waiting limo, and a minute later, the road was empty again.
Immediately, a van pulled up, and inside, James spoke into his walkie talkie. "The package is away. Now lets wrap this up, guys."
Inside the lobby, the receptionist Ben nodded his head. He looked around to make sure the lobby was momentarily empty. Only the restaurant at the end of the lobby was bustling with activity. Making sure that he wasn't seen, Ben pulled on a ski mask.
Richard and Alex emerged from the Mens Room; Richard had a similar ski mask on, Alex on the other hand, was dressed almost exactly like Herb Seigler.
Without wasting a moment, Alex walked towards the restaurant and ordered a cup of coffee. "I'll bring it along in a minute, Mr. Seigler," said the young waitress. She had served Mr. Seigler several times before, and knew his name. Perfect, thought Alex.
As he walked back towards the reception, he gave the signal Richard and Ben were looking for. He coughed.
Emerging from their corners, the two men pounced on the Herb Seigler look-alike. James, who could hear the scuffles through the microphones, reminded them. "Loud and brash. That's the way we like 'em. Make sure everyone notices."
Sure enough, Richard and Ben spent almost half a minute, violently scuffling with Alex. The screams of someone being kidnapped attracted the attention of the diners. A handful of them ventured into the lobby, shocked by what they were observing.
"Alright, enough of this man. Get me out of here." Alex said.
The two kidnappers then duly pulled the screaming Herb Seigler out of the lobby, onto the pavement outside. James opened the sliding door, and let them in.
Ben took the wheel immediately. "Wait, not so fast!" James yelled. A few witnesses rushed out of the lobby, and just as they saw the van, James yelled again. "Alright! Now!"
The van shot forward, leaving the stunned witnesses behind.
Within half an hour, the news of Herb Seigler's kidnapping spread. The police quickly started an investigation. All of his friends and family knew about it. Everyone knew. Everyone, except Herb Seigler, who was enjoying a drink in the back of a limousine...
[To be continued...]
Click here to read Chapter Two...